Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
January 15, 2012 2:38 PM

Marketing Has No Future Without Better Education

Episode #288 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

Is there any value in getting a degree in Marketing in this day and age? How well are the universities doing at providing an up-to-date curriculum to ensure that students graduating from Marketing are workplace ready? How has the digitization and New Media changed the way we educate our students about Marketing? Pushing this further, how are Marketers doing from the perspective of Marketing professors? Kenneth Wong is one of the leading marketing educators in the world. He holds the title of Associate Professor and Distinguished Professor of Marketing at Queen's School of Business and sits on the board of directors (with me) at the Canadian Marketing Association. Along with publishing his work in books and magazines, he's also a world-renowned speaker on Marketing, and if you've never seen his rant about "the margin sucking maggots," it is worth the price of admission alone. Enjoy the conversation...

You can grab the latest episode of Six Pixels of Separation here (or feel free to subscribe via iTunes): Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast #288.

By Mitch Joel


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  • Mitch Joel

    I really connected with this episode. I come from a creative background, having done my undergraduate in music, worked as a sound designer a number of years, and went on to get my MBA in marketing, and putting our digital platitudes into practice at a few different startups.

    There were a few things I felt were missing from the conversation:

    Technical Skills

    received valuable traditional marketing skills form my MBA and I sought outside sources to teach myself Social Media, SEO, etc. However, it wasn't until recently working at my current startup that I didn't know jack about code...and I needed to. It's not to say that a great digital marketer is going to be coding HTML and have his hands in the goop - but that they understand the language. Engineers and developers are building amazing assets for your company, and they are looking for marketers to guide the message and brand. You need a basic set of skills to bridge the gap. That being said, professional marketing education should include a basic understanding of HTML and how the web works. It will only make you a better marketer and reinforce the theory you might already know.

    Making things applicable

    One of the biggest challenges of a traditional marketing education (MBAs in particular) is that you live in ether of marketing theory. 4 P's, SWOT analysis, TOWS analysis, brand audits, are all amazing theoretical tools and subjects. However, they're meaningless unless you put them into action and make them applicable to your daily life. MBA marketing degrees are academic in nature and many programs force their students to learn in a bubble. If you we want to take marketing education to the next level we have to break the seal and start to put that wonderful theory into practice in anyway shape or form.

    Reply
    • Sean, this is some great fodder for my next conversation with Ken... thanks for adding!

      Reply
    • Posted by Ken Wong
      Mitch Joel

      Sean, All good points to be sure. Not sure I agree that MBA is the place to learn HTML. We prpeare people for lots of industries - cars, film and, of course, widgets - without teaching them the technical side of the industry. There are too many ondustries to cover. MBAs, the good ones, focus more onthe people side of the enterprise. They d0n;t just teach people a series of concepts and frameworks: they talk about how those frameworks actually get used (and abused) by people and the human, as well as business, implications of taking those frameworks too literally.

      And yes, in the end, not all wisdom can be told. At a minimum people shouldn;t think about an MBA until they've worked for a year or two and had a chance to see people and organizations coping witrh reality. That is where you gain a perspective on what you need to learn during your MBA. Personally, I don't teach any courses that don't culminate in a final, real world and real-time project - usually one provided by a client - because you are so right when you say the theory is useless unless we know how to put it into practice.

      Naturally not all profs can do that. But every prof can encourage their students - who soon will be professional collegues - to apply their material everyday. Because the great thing about marketing is that it is all around us...not because we are bombarded with ads but because we are bombarded with life. For example: loyalty management in business is no different in its core than what we do to generate loyalty in our human relationships; the act of differentiation that enables products to command premium prices may help us chart a personal brand that lets us get a premiium price (ie wage) for our services; as consumers of media and the products promoted through them we know what makes us happy and unhappy - does the theory help us understand why? if not you may have a great business opportunity staring you in the face. You don;t need a prof or a course to bridge theory and reality - you just need someone to encourage it...and that is something we all can do

      More than anything else, an MBA - especially a marketing MBA - should be focused on understanding people: people at work, at play and, yes, at shopping. That is the real skill set in demand. The frameworks just provide a means of organizing those observations and the technical elements are just ways of executing the decisions made on the basis of those observations, however organized....because ultimately, all theory and all technical skill has zero value unless it helps us create value for someone

      Just one person's thoughts.

      PS You, Mitch and I share a common background in the music industry...I wonder if there is an underlying reason why? Maybe music is the ultimate battleground where one needs to balance the musician/supplier's need to "create and innovate" with the audience's/consumer's right to be enageged and entertained. Much easier said than done...just like good marketing.

      Watch for our next conversation

      Reply
      • Mitch Joel

        A wonderful response Ken! I especially agree with the point you made here:

        "More than anything else, an MBA - especially a marketing MBA - should be focused on understanding people: people at work, at play and, yes, at shopping. That is the real skill set in demand."

        In my mind the best marketers are the best communicators. I'm not sure how much traditional marketing MBAs absorb that from their program. Communication of your message, communication of your brand, communication of your mission. At this point in my career, I wonder why we didn't have more instruction on basic marketing writing skills (copywriting sure, but we don't need to limit to that). I will tell you that my ability to amalgamate my thoughts and emotions into my writing is a skill I had to teach myself - but it's one of the most valuable skills in my marketing toolbox.

        "PS You, Mitch and I share a common background in the music industry...I wonder if there is an underlying reason why? Maybe music is the ultimate battleground where one needs to balance the musician/supplier's need to "create and innovate" with the audience's/consumer's right to be engaged and entertained. Much easier said than done...just like good marketing."

        --> That sir, is just beautifully said.


        Thinking about it now, you're probably right to say HTML doesn't really fit into the marketing curriculum - however I would still argue that the theory behind it should. Marketers don't all need to become coders, but they need to be able to communicate on a technical level. Learning basic HTML has added valuable jargon to my vocabulary allowing me to bridge the gap with developers.

        Where are you currently teaching Ken? I'd love to continue to chat and share ideas off the comment section.

        Reply
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